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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Birds of a Feather: Homeschool Birds Unit

Tom has an obsession with finding and collecting junk. Whether it's a pen cap or a straw wrapper, he feels the need to pocket it. First, it was just a need to collect "stuff." Then, through floortime, he developed the ability to give every tiny piece of trash a purpose and meaning. The scrap of busted balloon turned into a rainhat for a toy lizard. The bent paper clip became part of a contraption. This was fine for a while... until we opened a couple of drawers and discovered a magpie's nest of TRASH!

Last year, we developed the idea of focused trash collecting. We told Tom he could pick up red, white and blue trash, to be used in the creation of a "found art" representation of an American Flag. We painted a piece of plywood black, drew an outline of a flag in chalk, and started gluing. We entered the flag in the Barnstable County Fair 4-H art exhibition - and it won a prize!

This year, we started out by collecting feathers. Thanks to Tom's eagle eye, we found quite a variety, including the soft downy kind that help birds stay warm and the big, waterproof kind that cover wings.

Then, following some ideas suggested in the KONOS bird unit, we explored our feather collection. Peter (my husband) and Tommy sorted them, and compared them to photos. Peter had Tom use a magnifying glass to look closely at the quills and barbs, and a spray bottle to wet the feathers and watch the water roll off. Tom also drew the feathers and labelled the various parts.

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